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Let's talk: Vancian systems

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As you might have noticed I never said that current system should not be improved or changed to the system that supports the playstyle better. I merely stated that reworking it completely you have a big risk of "pouring out the baby with the water".

 

There is a rather definite concept of what the Wizard should and should not be capable of (in role-playing community I mean). The "soul" of the class. And if some highly advanced, ultra-intuitive and precisely balanced resource system ruins that "soul" I say make a new class for that system.

 

YMMV ofc.

 

This is a very conservative view.

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Good Lord, it sounds like some of you want a system as degenerate as Dragon Age: We closed Origin Studios. For shame, recant and repent.


Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Good Lord, it sounds like some of you want a system as degenerate as Dragon Age: We closed Origin Studios. For shame, recant and repent.

 

Dragon Age: Origins is one of the best RPGs ever made. If you can't see it, there are articles about that online. I read an article that just focused on Redcliffe and how it...intertwined most of aspects from the game. Then there's the complete choice(or almost complete /meh) of "do these things the way you want to do them". With some little modding, an outstanding combat system. Good writing, but more on the BW pathetic side than on Obsidian morose / realistic side.

 

Really, I can't see anything short of BG II(even if that) or Torment surpassing it. And Torment in itself is more of a philosopher tale + some gameplay, so no wonder it is a pinnacle of RPG. But DA:O simply has to be in top 5, if not top 3 RPGs of all time. At least imo, but I've played enough and seen enough to make this statement.

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Ha good one, laugh I almost bought a round.


Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Ha good one, laugh I almost bought a round.

 

Then feel free to name games from 95 onward which marry the narration with gameplay as seamlessly as DA:O does. Imo, only BG II and ME 2 surpass it. Torment no because it is more of a philosophical thesis than a game. Some of Witchers, maybe, but we are talking about individual games not franchises(I agree that DA franchise went to trash after DA:O).

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Stop it, i'm going to pee myself!


Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Ha good one, laugh I almost bought a round.

 

Then feel free to name games from 95 onward which marry the narration with gameplay as seamlessly as DA:O does. Imo, only BG II and ME 2 surpass it. Torment no because it is more of a philosophical thesis than a game. Some of Witchers, maybe, but we are talking about individual games not franchises(I agree that DA franchise went to trash after DA:O).

 

 

I think you mean narrative, rather than narration.  And really, a fault in Bioware games since forever that Pillars has inherited to some degree is that the narrative is widely split from gameplay.  Take romances in D:AO, they're largely a result of a gift system and dialogue system.  Give enough gifts, and the character sleeps with you.  The character may leave if you do one thing to tick them off.  That has nothing to do with stealth or fighting the Darkspawn, and really only barely touches the choices you make.  Baldur's Gate II did it better, by at least having characters use the reputation system so that the characterization of your character is represented, even if it is easily circumvented.

 

In Alpha Protocol, the NPCs are aware of the type of choices you make both narratively, and through gameplay.  They react to the way you play, and the story changes accordingly.  That is the gold standard.  In games like Fallout or Deus Ex, the way you do something is as important as what you do.  Going in guns ablazing will change what you can and can't do, and how people react to you.  The original DE also has that one moment that changes the story for the rest of the game in a small but very important way.

 

That's not to say the origin system wasn't impressive, because they were amazing game openers.  However, they don't really affect how you play the game; they just affect the narrative.

Edited by anameforobsidian

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As you might have noticed I never said that current system should not be improved or changed to the system that supports the playstyle better. I merely stated that reworking it completely you have a big risk of "pouring out the baby with the water".

 

There is a rather definite concept of what the Wizard should and should not be capable of (in role-playing community I mean). The "soul" of the class. And if some highly advanced, ultra-intuitive and precisely balanced resource system ruins that "soul" I say make a new class for that system.

 

YMMV ofc.

 

Well, it's an ugly baby anyway, so that's hardly a loss. You seem to be missing the point that what may need changing is "the playstyle". That some undefined "role-playing community" has (according to you) a rather definite concept of what constitutes the 'soul' of the wizard class is good for them, but why would their opinion matter here, or to the PoE 2 devs? 

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Good Lord, it sounds like some of you want a system as degenerate as Dragon Age: We closed Origin Studios. For shame, recant and repent.

 

Well argued, bravo! Hope your incontinence clears up. 

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Then feel free to name games from 95 onward which marry the narration with gameplay as seamlessly as DA:O does. Imo, only BG II and ME 2 surpass it. Torment no because it is more of a philosophical thesis than a game. Some of Witchers, maybe, but we are talking about individual games not franchises(I agree that DA franchise went to trash after DA:O).

Marrying narrative and gameplay -> In-game, you swing your sword which breaks a pot and this systematic change leads to changes in a storyline. You save Paul from special agents in spite of the game telling you that you can't and storyline changes, that's what it looks like when a narrative is married with gameplay. When gameplay itself is used to tell a story rather than lengthy dialogues, like when breaking cameras on levels of Citadel Station reduces Shodan's grip on them, that's when a narrative is married with gameplay. Later Ultima games, System Shock, Dishonored, Deus Ex series just to name a few examples which most certainly married gameplay and narrative significantly better than any of the Dragon Age games, Pillars of Eternity and Infinity Engine games combined.

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I'm in favor of an option for PoE that would replace the current 4 per rest cast (+1 per encounter mastery) by :

- 1 per encounter

- +1  at high level when you currently access mastery

So caster would not totally be OP during boss fights.

 

And I would totally remove any per rest abilities from non-casters as well. People don't like it. Obsidian noticed it. There was almost zero per rest abilities introduced in WM I&II... (exactly 1 : pet revive, and sworn ennemy and Heart of fury were even turned to per encounter).

 

I developped this idea a lot on this thread :

https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/88307-class-balance-and-class-system-review-for-poe-2/page-2

(sorry to summon this from the realm of forgotten dead threads)

 

 

I also noticed from reading all the threads about this topic that there is close to no consensus on the matter.

That's why I think an option would certainly be the best solution to make everyone happy. 

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I just think having Vancians and per-encs together without any moderating mechanism is asking for trouble. Either Vancians become a huge hassle, or per-encs become rote brainless spam abilities leaving the heavy lifting to Vancians. 

 

Either you get rid of Vancians for that game, or you make some changes to the non-Vancian abilities, uniting them with some sort of mechanic. It is weird that they all play by entirely separate rules. 

 

I would try to find a middle ground in POE2, some sort of resource mechanic that does introduce resource conservation across battles (which a full per-enc system wouldn't provide), while getting rid of Vancians. That might mean upkeep, it might mean some kind of magic toxicity that is purged with rest, hell, it could just be a mana system where mana potions / regeneration is actually difficult, or it could just mean stamina costs for per-enc castings, something. Right now you just have per-encs that you cast every single battle (or you don't because they suck), and then Vancians doing their own thing off to the side.

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I would try to find a middle ground in POE2, some sort of resource mechanic that does introduce resource conservation across battles (which a full per-enc system wouldn't provide), while getting rid of Vancians. That might mean upkeep, it might mean some kind of magic toxicity that is purged with rest, hell, it could just be a mana system where mana potions / regeneration is actually difficult, or it could just mean stamina costs for per-enc castings, something. Right now you just have per-encs that you cast every single battle (or you don't because they suck), and then Vancians doing their own thing off to the side.

 

Agreed. And it would be nice to extend that at least a bit to the current per-encounter abilities as well. Because they do tend to become a bit spammy, since there is generally no incentive not to use them. They are essentially all upside (exceptions like Frenzy notwithstanding), might be better to have at least some kind of cost attached; so you have to put some more thought in whether and when to use them. More like the modal abilities, essentially (though those could be further improved in this regard as well). 

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Well, it's an ugly baby anyway, so that's hardly a loss. You seem to be missing the point that what may need changing is "the playstyle". That some undefined "role-playing community" has (according to you) a rather definite concept of what constitutes the 'soul' of the wizard class is good for them, but why would their opinion matter here, or to the PoE 2 devs? 

 

Maybe because they are the core audience? )

 

On the topic. Where your personal dissatisfaction with vancian casting comes from? You can't play other calsses because casters can do same things better or what? This is the single player game so you are basically palying it with yourself. Why do you so desperately need balance among classes when the only balance that matters is the  player vs enviroment one?

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I would try to find a middle ground in POE2, some sort of resource mechanic that does introduce resource conservation across battles (which a full per-enc system wouldn't provide), while getting rid of Vancians. That might mean upkeep, it might mean some kind of magic toxicity that is purged with rest, hell, it could just be a mana system where mana potions / regeneration is actually difficult, or it could just mean stamina costs for per-enc castings, something. Right now you just have per-encs that you cast every single battle (or you don't because they suck), and then Vancians doing their own thing off to the side.

 These are good suggestions. If you want to limit a spellcaster's power in encounter introduce 'magic endurance' that they can spend per encounter with the ability to supercharge in critical encounters to cast using health when endurance is depleted. But... better introduce new class - Warlock and shape his spells around the theme of great power at the cost of self-damage. ;)

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Maybe because they are the core audience? )

 

On the topic. Where your personal dissatisfaction with vancian casting comes from? You can't play other calsses because casters can do same things better or what? This is the single player game so you are basically palying it with yourself. Why do you so desperately need balance among classes when the only balance that matters is the  player vs enviroment one?

 

Says you, but you offer very little support for your claim. So either by "role-playing community" you mean the general population of cRPG gamers, in which case it is on you to prove that at least a large majority of them hold to this supposed rather definite concept of a wizard (I'm part of that population and I don't, for one; neither, presumably, are others in this thread arguing for changes). Or, you mean a much more specific subset of this general cRPG population, in which case it is hardly evident that they are the core audience.

 

I want balance among classes because that's what a well-designed game needs: balance between its various elements. That ensures that there is a large number of different viable playing styles. Without such balance, you will either have underpowered classes (relative to the difficulty level) that are frustrating to play because they can't contribute to the party and/or overpowered classes (relative to the difficulty) that take all the challenge out of it. And the same applies to balance among items, stats, spells, etc. I mean, they could give wizard a first level Disintegrate spell that does 1000 raw Foe AOE damage at +100 Accuracy; it would be hideously unbalanced and essentially makes all other spells irrelevant. It would be incredibly bad design, but following your logic it wouldn't matter in a single player game.

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I want balance among classes because that's what a well-designed game needs: balance between its various elements. That ensures that there is a large number of different viable playing styles. Without such balance, you will either have underpowered classes (relative to the difficulty level) that are frustrating to play because they can't contribute to the party and/or overpowered classes (relative to the difficulty) that take all the challenge out of it. And the same applies to balance among items, stats, spells, etc. I mean, they could give wizard a first level Disintegrate spell that does 1000 raw Foe AOE damage at +100 Accuracy; it would be hideously unbalanced and essentially makes all other spells irrelevant. It would be incredibly bad design, but following your logic it wouldn't matter in a single player game.

 

I disagree. There's no evidence that a well-designed game needs to be balanced beyond eschewing the corner cases. For example, consider Baldur's Gate 2 which had an average of at least one completely unbalanced spell or ability per class (some had more, a few had many more.. and you could combine them) as well as items which ranged from severely unbalanced to stuff which modern, MMO-influenced gamers would be unlikely to believe could be in a mainstream game. Despite this, BG2 was, in my opinion (and, if you don't trust that, also according to Metacritic), a better game than PoE. You are not wrong about balance, overpowered and underpowered classes and all the rest, but all of this has to be balanced ( :)) against other considerations.

 

Consider, for instance, how the player is rewarded for accomplishments. In the most balanced games (usually MMOs), they get a perfectly balanced reward consisting of something slightly better than what they had. This results in a treadmill: in the N-th area N-th level characters can find +N equipment and monsters of N-th level with +N stats so the game feels more or less the same throughout and the rewards are effectively meaningless. To be fair, PoE is not quite at that stage: it has a substantial number of unique items and some of them are even significantly more powerful than others (or at least that was the case when I last played -- from the patch notes it looks like there were some nerfs). However, it is not nearly as rewarding a game as BG2; balance is always the priority over giving the player something truly awesome. The same goes for the character progression: the initial version of the game had one outlier in making lower spell levels per encounter, but they nerfed that too.

 

The same problem afflicts the implementation of Vancian casting. On the one hand, balance demands that such casters somehow be useful despite being per-rest, but on the other, it also demands that they not trivialize boss encounters. The game mostly makes this work... but is the result as fun as the old games which gave the player extremely powerful spells? In my opinion, no, it is not even close.

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and, if you don't trust that, also according to Metacritic

I wouldn't really trust Metacritic on this either - There's a massive cloud of nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses that shrouded Baldur's Gate games throughout the years to the point of people unquestioningly rating it highly as the "best game ever" purely based on nostalgic memories alone (many old games get far higher user scores than they'd deserve due to this). Aside from that, Baldur's Gate, at the time of its release, was a revelation to many. It has streamlined the previously clunky and overly complex RPG genre, it has simplified it and opened it up to a much wider audience, to the point where BG and Infinity Engine games as a whole were the first RPGs many were really able to get into. At this point, it has a massive historical and cultural significance to gaming as a whole.

 

Pillars of Eternity, being mostly a derivative of what Infinity Engine games were back in the late 90s, can't ever live up to that kind of legacy. With that in mind tho, I would absolutely say that it's a significantly better game than Baldur's Gate 1 and, in my mind, also surpasses Baldur's Gate 2 in many areas - proper balance being one of those things. Sure, it was awesome to get that amazing weapon which was oh so much more powerful than your most powerful stuff... Just to find out that you have specced your party so that nobody can really use it. It was so great to get those massively powerful spells until you noticed you can't use them because your specialization forbids it. And when the realization that my entire party only exists to protect the mage who does the vast majority of the actual damage, let's say 'fun' wasn't exactly the word that came to my mind.

 

Then there's writing which I was never a big fan of in Baldur's Gate, it always kinda reminded me of the silly campaigns we've done in DnD as opposed to the amazing ones, but hey, we're getting into a massively subjective territory here.

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I disagree. There's no evidence that a well-designed game needs to be balanced beyond eschewing the corner cases. For example, consider Baldur's Gate 2 which had an average of at least one completely unbalanced spell or ability per class (some had more, a few had many more.. and you could combine them) as well as items which ranged from severely unbalanced to stuff which modern, MMO-influenced gamers would be unlikely to believe could be in a mainstream game. Despite this, BG2 was, in my opinion (and, if you don't trust that, also according to Metacritic), a better game than PoE. You are not wrong about balance, overpowered and underpowered classes and all the rest, but all of this has to be balanced ( :)) against other considerations.

 

Consider, for instance, how the player is rewarded for accomplishments. In the most balanced games (usually MMOs), they get a perfectly balanced reward consisting of something slightly better than what they had. This results in a treadmill: in the N-th area N-th level characters can find +N equipment and monsters of N-th level with +N stats so the game feels more or less the same throughout and the rewards are effectively meaningless. To be fair, PoE is not quite at that stage: it has a substantial number of unique items and some of them are even significantly more powerful than others (or at least that was the case when I last played -- from the patch notes it looks like there were some nerfs). However, it is not nearly as rewarding a game as BG2; balance is always the priority over giving the player something truly awesome. The same goes for the character progression: the initial version of the game had one outlier in making lower spell levels per encounter, but they nerfed that too.

 

The same problem afflicts the implementation of Vancian casting. On the one hand, balance demands that such casters somehow be useful despite being per-rest, but on the other, it also demands that they not trivialize boss encounters. The game mostly makes this work... but is the result as fun as the old games which gave the player extremely powerful spells? In my opinion, no, it is not even close.

 

 

That rather depends on how you define well-balanced, I suppose. I'd say that however fun BG2 may have been, it had considerable room for improvement in this regard. 

 

Note that I'm not arguing for the kind of mathematically exact equivalence of MMOs (not that I ever played any, but I get what you mean). Balance, in my view, doesn't entail an exactly even distribution of power and quality and whatnot, without (real) variation. By all means, you need that variation and that differential, especially in the interaction of spells and abilities and items, to give players something to explore and discover. To come up with a build that exploits some combination to get an unexpectly powerful result, or to manage to make that seemingly worthless talent actually worth something. So you need that variation, but it can't have too many outliers. If they're at the top end of the spectrum they devalue everything else and make the game too easy when you have it. If they're at the bottom end of the spectrum, they're just going to clutter up the game and lead to disappoint (since people will still tend to assume that they must be good for something). 

 

And obviously it is also a matter of accessibility and prevalence. Having one base class being much more powerful than the rest is much more problematic than having some particular very powerful build. It's going to make all other characters seem very weak in comparison, and if it's an NPC with that class (s)he going to overshadow the protagonist. Whereas a powerful build like the Kensai-Mage, that's much more a niche kind of thing, it takes a bit of effort and meta-game knowledge to get it to work well, and it's quite fulfilling if you came up with it yourself. 

 

Same with items, weapon types, etc. The MMO approach of a progression of weapons incrementally but strictly better than the one before it doesn't work, because there's essentially nothing for you to decide. But the same applies if the variations in power are too large, and especially if the variation is basically on a single axis (ie. damage range). If the Splattery Hammer +10 you have is just way better than everything else you have, there is again not really a decision for you to make. And the same for weapon types and fighting styles; as I recall for example the hammers in the IE games were significantly inferior to pretty much anything else. Which is also where it helps to have multiple axes of variation, like damage per hit, attack speed, accuracy and damage type. That way each weapon and weapon type still retains some weaknesses, and you have much less of a chance that one weapon or weapon type is strictly superior, in turn leaving the decision-making much more with the players rather than pushing them into a particular direction. 

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Pillars of Eternity, being mostly a derivative of what Infinity Engine games were back in the late 90s, can't ever live up to that kind of legacy. With that in mind tho, I would absolutely say that it's a significantly better game than Baldur's Gate 1 and, in my mind, also surpasses Baldur's Gate 2 in many areas - proper balance being one of those things.

 

While PoE certainly does surpass BG2 in balance, I don't think that makes it a better game. It would be one thing if they came up with something brilliant and new which allowed them to have balance and player rewards at the same time, but they only achieved the former by sacrificing the latter and on the whole the outcome was worse. The same goes with aiming at serious drama rather than self-aware humor (although that is certainly a topic for another thread).

 

That said, PoE does fix a lot of the problems in the BG series, especially at low levels. The idea to add per-encounter abilities (e.g. Arcane Assault) to Vancian casters was a good one.

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Overcoming challenging obstacles is a reward in and of itself, the player doesn't need a +15 sword of epic awesomeness to feel accomplished after beating a challenging battle, and making a balanced game is the first step to providing challenging obstacles in that game.

 

I'd make the argument that this game has great itemization, yeah some will look at a sword with the marking ability and think it's a piece of junk, but someone else will understand it's actually great for a support based melee character.  The fact that there is itemization that is good for a support style melee character (Paladin for example) is what makes the itemization good, you can find items that support most kind of builds you could come up with.  There are weapons with increased engagement slots for your tanks, there are weapons with stun properties for your rogues, there are weapons with increased attack speed or damage penetration for DPS madness, and many more.

 

It is a lot better than a linear progression that gives you no choice at all... something like...

 

Sword

+1 Sword

+5 Sword of awesomeness

+10 Sword of Epicness

+15 Sword of Epic awesomeness

 

Which is a progression I've seen in many other games, and I never once felt it was rewarding to go from a +5 weapon to a +10 weapon, the only thing that is different is the number.  But coming up with an interesting build that is supported by a property on a weapon you found, that is rewarding, and that is what Pillars of Eternity itemization has.

Edited by Climhazzard
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I actually do want my Splattery Hammer +10 now, though. Like, a giant two-handed (for non-Ogres) Ogre hammer; hits like a truck, Push and AOE damage on hit, +100% recovery penalty... 

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I actually do want my Splattery Hammer +10 now, though. Like, a giant two-handed (for non-Ogres) Ogre hammer; hits like a truck, Push and AOE damage on hit, +100% recovery penalty...

That would be too balanced for the "epicness" folk... even if I feel quite sure it would be possible to fully compensate its penalty by giving it to a Barbarian with Bloodlust+Bloodthirst.

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Well, it's an ugly baby anyway, so that's hardly a loss. You seem to be missing the point that what may need changing is "the playstyle". That some undefined "role-playing community" has (according to you) a rather definite concept of what constitutes the 'soul' of the wizard class is good for them, but why would their opinion matter here, or to the PoE 2 devs?

 

Maybe because they are the core audience? )

 

On the topic. Where your personal dissatisfaction with vancian casting comes from? You can't play other calsses because casters can do same things better or what? This is the single player game so you are basically palying it with yourself. Why do you so desperately need balance among classes when the only balance that matters is the player vs enviroment one?

I don't know. I've been wondering about that for quite a while now. Ever since MMOs started to overbalance their PvE content to be exact. I mean, some challenge is ok, but whom are you hurting exactly if you obliterate that npc?

 

...ask the devs? I am clueless on this one. I would never spend so much time balancing a PvE game. One thing is to make sure everyone's useful. It's whole another thing when the nerfs / buffs begin because something is ~10% better etc.

 

I don't understand.

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I actually do want my Splattery Hammer +10 now, though. Like, a giant two-handed (for non-Ogres) Ogre hammer; hits like a truck, Push and AOE damage on hit, +100% recovery penalty... 

 

I have just the thing for you!  http://www.gamebanshee.com/cgi-bin/search/banshee_search.pl?_layout=Pillars_Items_Page&_cgifunction=search&Pillars_Items.id=963

 

It is Mythic! Which is surely better than +10!  And it is the only two handed hammer in the game.  If you put it on a Barb it'll even be AoE!  Sure maybe you've basically beat the game by the time you get it... but what better reward could there be?!

 

If only there was a way to make it push/prone on hit...

Edited by Climhazzard

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